Marketing strategies in Vietnamese higher education in the digital context: Some suggestions

Digitalisation has transformed the way people seek and receive information, which

has led to a transformation in marketing from a traditional approach to a digital

approach. This is also the case in Higher Education, and this paper discusses

marketing at Vietnamese Higher Education Institutions with a digital focus.

Currently, Higher Education Institutions need to run effective digital marketing

campaigns to attract and retain potential and suitable students. However, in

Vietnam, these campaigns might not have been fruitful given that they seem to

lack strategic planning and consistency, which can be seen through the cases of

FTU, HU and VNUH. The methodology for this research was through observing

each institution’s website and social media channels to evaluate how the 5 W’s of

investigation were applied and what the shortcomings are. Based on these findings,

two recommendations have been put forward so that Vietnamese Higher Education

Institutions can run effective digital marketing campaigns. First, all institutions

need to invest in the transformation from traditional marketing to digital marketing

happen while having a good relationship with students, who are essentially their

customers. Second, a detailed Content Marketing Strategy for each institution has

been devised to make sure all critical aspects are covered in such strategy and

make sure that the contents reflect reality and are of high value. Most importantly,

building a good connection with them can enable Higher Education Institutions’

marketing campaigns to gain scalability with user-generated contents and word

of mouth, which come from alumni and current students to potential students.

Even though this paper has looked at digital marketing journey and how to run

effective campaigns suitable for the current Vietnamese Higher Education context,

it only looks at three universities as representatives from each university model in

Vietnam. Therefore, recommendations for each institution need to be put forward

based on a more specific and customized research. It is suggested, therefore,

that each university should carry out the 5 W’s of Investigation to clearly define

their campaigns and their Content Marketing Strategy. The information gathered,

therefore, can become a valuable source for a more detailed marketing strategy

entailing all the different kinds of sub-strategies as mentioned above. For example,

knowing the customers’ online user personas can enable an institution to devise a

relevant and successful online viral campaign.

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MARKETING STRATEGIES IN VIETNAMESE HIGHER EDUCATION IN THE DIGITAL CONTEXT: SOME SUGGESTIONS Yen Duong Thi Hoang1 Linh Ngo Van Thuy2 Abstract Digitalisation has transformed the way people seek and receive information, which has led to a transformation in marketing from a traditional approach to a digital approach. This is also the case in Higher Education, and this paper discusses marketing at Vietnamese Higher Education Institutions with a digital focus. Currently, Higher Education Institutions need to run effective digital marketing campaigns to attract and retain potential and suitable students. However, in Vietnam, these campaigns might not have been fruitful given that they seem to lack strategic planning and consistency, which can be seen through the cases of FTU, HU and VNUH. The methodology for this research was through observing each institution’s website and social media channels to evaluate how the 5 W’s of investigation were applied and what the shortcomings are. Based on these findings, two recommendations have been put forward so that Vietnamese Higher Education Institutions can run effective digital marketing campaigns. First, all institutions need to invest in the transformation from traditional marketing to digital marketing happen while having a good relationship with students, who are essentially their customers. Second, a detailed Content Marketing Strategy for each institution has been devised to make sure all critical aspects are covered in such strategy and make sure that the contents reflect reality and are of high value. Most importantly, building a good connection with them can enable Higher Education Institutions’ marketing campaigns to gain scalability with user-generated contents and word of mouth, which come from alumni and current students to potential students. Even though this paper has looked at digital marketing journey and how to run effective campaigns suitable for the current Vietnamese Higher Education context, it only looks at three universities as representatives from each university model in Vietnam. Therefore, recommendations for each institution need to be put forward based on a more specific and customized research. It is suggested, therefore, that each university should carry out the 5 W’s of Investigation to clearly define their campaigns and their Content Marketing Strategy. The information gathered, therefore, can become a valuable source for a more detailed marketing strategy entailing all the different kinds of sub-strategies as mentioned above. For example, knowing the customers’ online user personas can enable an institution to devise a relevant and successful online viral campaign. Keywords: Higher Education; Marketing; Digital Marketing; Digital Customer Journey; Marketing Strategies. 1 VNU University of Education, Vietnam National University, Hanoi. 2 La Trobe University, Australia; Email: dhyen1973@gmail.com. 470 KỶ YẾU HỘI THẢO QUỐC TẾ LẦN THỨ NHẤT VỀ ĐỔI MỚI ĐÀO TẠO GIÁO VIÊN 1. Introduction In recent years, digitalisation has transformed the way people seek, send and receive information, which affects the decision making process of young students when it comes to higher education (Dhote et al. 2015, p. 200). Therefore, marketing strategies in higher education has shifted to a focus on digital marketing to attract and retain the right students. However, digital marketing strategies in Vietnamese higher education institutions seem to be not clearly defined and executed in a systematic way. Therefore, marketing’s shift to a focus on digital marketing, what it is like and what should be noted in the current context will be discussed using three case studies to illustrate digital marketing strategies in Vietnamese Higher Education institutions. Based on these findings, some recommendations will be put forward to help these institutions run effective digital marketing campaigns. 2. The shift of marketing to a digital focus in the current context In Marketing, research has proven that strategies need to be aligned with the changes in the marketplace (Arnett & Wittmann 2014, p. 329). Nowadays, human interaction has mostly happened online and created virtual communities (Tiago &Verissimo, 2014). This has therefore led to a change in the way marketing strategies are devised and carried out, with digital marketing being the key focus to all organisations nowadays. This means that marketing strategies no longer focuses on the traditional ways, but rather the use of different online platforms like websites and social media channels. In addition, with the data gathered on consumer behaviour online, an organisation’s marketing strategies can be properly developed and evaluated. This can be done after identifying the target group and their online behaviour, followed by specific strategies like the ones for content, user experience design, search engine marketing, online advertising marketing, social media marketing, email marketing and mobile marketing. With these strategies being able to reach a large audience and become scalable, digital marketing can be a lot more cost-effective than traditional marketing with the use of modern technologies. In addition, most consumers are also online users, so word of mouth on online platforms can also help with the scalability of marketing campaigns as long as consumers are happy with or impressed by the products in the campaigns. Since the trajectory of Digital Marketing is quite large, it is crucial that the current Digital Marketing context in Higher Education Institutions is discussed to propose what should be noted for the Vietnamese market. 3. What should be noted about digital marketing for Vietnamese higher education institutions in the current context Regarding the current digital marketing context in Higher Education Institutions, research in both digital marketing and marketing in the field will be discussed to provide some context for suggestions in the next part. First, Higher Education Institutions should view students using a customer-focused perspective since it allows the relationships with key stakeholders to be managed and evaluated, which will essentially increase the quality of recruitment and retention rate (Wright 2014, p. 88). This also means that marketing 471Phần 3: TƯƠNG LAI CỦA GIÁO DỤC VIỆT NAM: NHỮNG VẤN ĐỀ VỀ QUẢN LÝ GIÁO DỤC... campaigns by higher education institutions should be aligned with what the courses actually offer to ensure that the targeted students are clear about what to expect and is expected of them. Even though marketing is the tool to get and engage more customers, the content should be accurate and appropriate in this field given that it affects the retention rates of university and social outcomes in general. Second, the new customers generation relies on digital platforms to make their decisions (Menshikova 2017, p. 63). Hence, when guiding potential students towards the right courses or educating them about suitable courses, each university should use digital marketing with a strategy entailing all necessary platforms. These include, but are not limited to website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, YouTube, Instagram, each of which needs to have its own strategy and kinds of contents. Therefore, the current digital media marketing landscape in Vietnamese Higher Education needs to be looked into before suggestions to run effective campaigns can be put forward. Figure 1. Lastest news section 472 KỶ YẾU HỘI THẢO QUỐC TẾ LẦN THỨ NHẤT VỀ ĐỔI MỚI ĐÀO TẠO GIÁO VIÊN Since there are three university models in Vietnam, one example of each model will be discussed to give a broad view of digital marketing in Vietnamese Higher Education. First, the digital marketing strategies of Foreign Trade University (FTU) as a University will be discussed. Its website has an English version beside the Vietnamese one and it looks quite neat and contains all the necessary information, but the home page contains some overlapping sections. For example, there is a News tab at the top, and there is Latest News section in the next section as can be seen after scrolling down (Figure 1). In addition, its website does not link other platforms that the university has, which is the reason why it is challenging to find it on other social media platforms for more information. Regarding social media, FTU has Linkedin (Figure 2) and quite strong profile with a large number of followers and alumni. However, the university does not post or share news on Linkedin, which can be a disadvantage in reaching out to potential local and international students given that Linkedin has become the main platform for recruiters and professionals nowadays. Considering Facebook, it has a strong page with an even bigger network of people than Linkedin and the page is quite active (Figure 3). However, its name is only displayed in Vietnamese, the posting is not as frequent and it does not seem to have a plan with the contents and frequency. With YouTube, it has a channel with a Vietnamese name only, but it does not have a lot of subscribers. There are quite a few videos but they are not frequent and just leaning towards news update rather than creative contents or providing viewers with the university’s operational context (Figure 4). Therefore, it can be seen that even though FTU’s digital marketing strategy focuses on these platforms, it does not seem to have a consistent approach and strategy. Figure 2. FTU’s Linked In page 473Phần 3: TƯƠNG LAI CỦA GIÁO DỤC VIỆT NAM: NHỮNG VẤN ĐỀ VỀ QUẢN LÝ GIÁO DỤC... Figure 3. FTU’s youtube channel Second, Hue University (HU) will be discussed as an example of a Local University in Vietnam. Given its website, the layout contains a lot of sections and information, while the text is really small, which makes it hard for potential students to navigate the site (Figure 5). However, they did link their Facebook page at the bottom of their website, and their Facebook, regardless of not having a lot of followers, has a professional look with both its Vietnamese and English names, and an appointment section underneath (Figure 6). Regarding YouTube, it does link a video introducing the university on the website, but the video is published using an individual’s account and not the university’s, so it can be safe to say that HU does not have a YouTube account yet. Regarding Linkedin, it has an account but with limited followers and their last post was from three years ago (Figure 7). Figure 4. Hue University’s website 474 KỶ YẾU HỘI THẢO QUỐC TẾ LẦN THỨ NHẤT VỀ ĐỔI MỚI ĐÀO TẠO GIÁO VIÊN Third, regarding Vietnam National University Hanoi (VNUH) as a National University, its current digital marketing strategy will be evaluated. Regarding its website, it seems to have the same issues as HU since the information provided is overwhelmingly abundant while the text is of small size (Figure 8). However, some of the tap’s links do not work, like the Videos tap that does not lead any page, which means that a YouTube page does not exist yet. In addition, it does not have links to any other platforms it has, which must also be because it uses no other platforms beside its website. For example, when searched on Facebook, its page does not show up, but Vietnam National University Ho Chi Minh City could be found as the first result (Figure 9). Regarding Linkedin, it is present on Linkedin, but its profile seems to have been neglected with no official profile photo or even introduction (Figure 10). Therefore, it can be seen that VNUH does not focus on social media platforms and only communicates with its students on its website, and even then the website is not well designed. Figure 7. VNUH’s website Figure 5. Hue University’s Facebook page Figure 6. Hue University’s LikedIn page 475Phần 3: TƯƠNG LAI CỦA GIÁO DỤC VIỆT NAM: NHỮNG VẤN ĐỀ VỀ QUẢN LÝ GIÁO DỤC... Third, regarding Vietnam National University Hanoi (VNUH) as a National University, its current digital marketing strategy will be evaluated. Regarding its website, it seems to have the same issues as HU since the information provided is overwhelmingly abundant while the text is of small size (Figure 8). However, some of the tap’s links do not work, like the Videos tap that does not lead any page, which means that a YouTube page does not exist yet. In addition, it does not have links to any other platforms it has, which must also be because it uses no other platforms beside its website. For example, when searched on Facebook, its page does not show up, but Vietnam National University Ho Chi Minh City could be found as the first result (Figure 9). Regarding Linkedin, it is present on Linkedin, but its profile seems to have been neglected with no official profile photo or even introduction (Figure 10). Therefore, it can be seen that VNUH does not focus on social media platforms and only communicates with its students on its website, and even then the website is not well designed. Figure 7. VNUH’s website 476 KỶ YẾU HỘI THẢO QUỐC TẾ LẦN THỨ NHẤT VỀ ĐỔI MỚI ĐÀO TẠO GIÁO VIÊN 4. How to run effective digital marketing campaigns for Vietnamese higher education institutions Figure 10. Content Marketing Strategy for Vietnamese Higher Education Institutions With the discussion about the current digital media marketing landscape and aspects of its reality in Vietnamese Higher Education reflected through the three case studies above, some recommendations to run effective digital marketing campaigns are put forward. As understanding digital customer journey is crucial to devising a solid digital marketing plan, it is important to understand the customers and how to engage them best and increase sales, which in this case is the number of students registering for courses offered. Given the discussion above, it should be noted that digital marketing is a must for higher education institutions when devising a marketing strategy nowadays to attract and retain highly educated students. However, the use of websites or social media platforms to run digital campaigns needs to be carefully considered, given that virtual members can spread the word and make or break digital marketing efforts like viral campaigns. Second, regarding the contents for all the campaigns, the 5W’s of investigation (Who?, What?, Where?, When? and Why?) need to be carefully considered to cover all critical areas of the conversations with customers that digital marketing creates. This will also ensure that all vital aspects of the digital customer journey are accounted for in an institute’s digital marketing plan. Hence, a detailed Content Marketing Strategy has been proposed for Vietnamese Higher Education Institutions, which will explain who to target and what their personas are, what should be written or made to attract this audience, where to publish the contents, when to publish and why to run the campaign (Figure 11). Specifically, as the target audience are young adults or professionals looking for career advancement, who are either really active on social media or really busy. Therefore, information about the courses, what actually happens at universities and what students have gained should be posted to provide reliable information for users with highly educated background or busy lifestyles. Furthermore, if students’ testimonials are used, they will increase the trustworthiness of the information provided, which ensures its reliability and spreadability in the sector. Hence, building a Figure 8. Search results on Facebook Figure 9. VNUH’s Linked In’s Page 477Phần 3: TƯƠNG LAI CỦA GIÁO DỤC VIỆT NAM: NHỮNG VẤN ĐỀ VỀ QUẢN LÝ GIÁO DỤC... 4. How to run effective digital marketing campaigns for Vietnamese higher education institutions Figure 10. Content Marketing Strategy for Vietnamese Higher Education Institutions With the discussion about the current digital media marketing landscape and aspects of its reality in Vietnamese Higher Education reflected through the three case studies above, some recommendations to run effective digital marketing campaigns are put forward. As understanding digital customer journey is crucial to devising a solid digital marketing plan, it is important to understand the customers and how to engage them best and increase sales, which in this case is the number of students registering for courses offered. Given the discussion above, it should be noted that digital marketing is a must for higher education institutions when devising a marketing strategy nowadays to attract and retain highly educated students. However, the use of websites or social media platforms to run digital campaigns needs to be carefully considered, given that virtual members can spread the word and make or break digital marketing efforts like viral campaigns. Second, regarding the contents for all the campaigns, the 5W’s of investigation (Who?, What?, Where?, When? and Why?) need to be carefully considered to cover all critical areas of the conversations with customers that digital marketing creates. This will also ensure that all vital aspects of the digital customer journey are accounted for in an institute’s digital marketing plan. Hence, a detailed Content Marketing Strategy has been proposed for Vietnamese Higher Education Institutions, which will explain who to target and what their personas are, what should be written or made to attract this audience, where to publish the contents, when to publish and why to run the campaign (Figure 11). Specifically, as the target audience are young adults or professionals looking for career advancement, who are either really active on social media or really busy. Therefore, information about the courses, what actually happens at universities and what students have gained should be posted to provide reliable information for users with highly educated background or busy lifestyles. Furthermore, if students’ testimonials are used, they will increase the trustworthiness of the information provided, which ensures its reliability and spreadability in the sector. Hence, building a 478 KỶ YẾU HỘI THẢO QUỐC TẾ LẦN THỨ NHẤT VỀ ĐỔI MỚI ĐÀO TẠO GIÁO VIÊN strong relationship with alumni and students will allow institutions to get user-generated contents and online word of mouth, which is a strong force to help with scalability of digital marketing campaigns. Using the multi-channel approach, the content created for one platform should be posted or shared in the others using different structures and ideas. Since digital media marketing seems new to most of Higher Education Institutions currently, it is crucial to post with high frequency and consistency, and each platform should have a new post at least once a week. Finally, the why for the campaigns has to be clearly defined to shape the feel of the contents. In this case, it should be focused on building the brand name of the universities and encourage potential students to get on board. 5. Conclusion Digital marketing has become the driving force of marketing nowadays with digital transformation being the centre of change for the way humans interact with each other and seek information. Currently, Higher Education needs to run effective digital marketing campaigns to attract and retain potential and suitable students. However, in Vietnam, these campaigns might not have been fruitful given that they seem to lack strategic planning and consistency, which can be seen through the cases of FTU, HU and VNUH. Based on these findings, some recommendations have been put forward so that higher education institutions can run effective digital marketing campaigns. First, all institutions need to invest in the transformation from traditional marketing to digital marketing happen while having a good relationship with students, who are essentially their customers. Second, a detailed Content Marketing Strategy for each institution has been devised to make sure all critical aspects are covered in such strategy and make sure that the contents reflect reality and are of high value. Most importantly, building a good connection with them can enable Higher Education Institutions’ marketing campaigns to gain scalability with user- generated contents and word of mouth, which come from alumni and current students to potential students. 6. Discussion and future study Even though this paper has looked at digital marketing journey and how to run effective campaigns suitable for the current Vietnamese Higher Education context, it only looks at three universities as representatives from each university model in Vietnam. Therefore, recommendations for each institution need to be put forward based on a more specific and customized research. It is suggested, therefore, that each university should carry out the 5 W’s of Investigation to clearly define their campaigns and their Content Marketing Strategy. The information gathered, therefore, can become a valuable source for a more detailed marketing strategy entailing all the different kinds of sub-strategies as mentioned above. For example, knowing the customers’ online user personas can enable an institution to devise a relevant and successful online viral campaign. 479Phần 3: TƯƠNG LAI CỦA GIÁO DỤC VIỆT NAM: NHỮNG VẤN ĐỀ VỀ QUẢN LÝ GIÁO DỤC... References 1. Arnett, DB & Wittmann, CM 2014. ‘Improving marketing success: The role of tacit knowledge exchange between sales and marketing’, Journal of Business Research, vol. 67, no. 3, pp. 324–331. 2. Dhote, T, Jog, Y, Gavade, N & Shrivastava, G 2015. ‘Effectiveness of Digital Marketing in Education: An Insight into Consumer Perceptions’, Indian Journal of Science and Technology, vol. 8, no. S4, pp. 200-205. 3. Menshikova, M 2017. ‘ANALYSIS OF THE NEW GENERATION’S EXPECTATIONS TOWARDS DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION TRENDS’, Journal of Research on Trade, Management and Economic Development, vol. 4, no. 2(8), pp. 48-66. 4. Tiago, MTPMB &Veríssimo, JMC 2014. ‘Digital marketing and social media: Why bother?’, Business Horizons, vol. 57, no. 6, pp. 703–708. 5. Wright, RE 2014. ‘Student Focused Marketing: Impact of Marketing Higher Education Based on Student Data and Input’, College Student Journal, vol. 48, no. 1, pp.88–93. 480 KỶ YẾU HỘI THẢO QUỐC TẾ LẦN THỨ NHẤT VỀ ĐỔI MỚI ĐÀO TẠO GIÁO VIÊN CHIẾN LƯỢC MARKETING ĐỐI VỚI GIÁO DỤC ĐẠI HỌC Việt Nam TRONG BỐI CẢNH KỸ THUẬT SỐ: MỘT SỐ ĐỀ XUẤT Dương Thị Hoàng Yến1 Ngô Văn Thùy Linh2 Tóm tắt Kỹ thuật số đã thay đổi cách con người tìm và nhận thông tin, điều này dẫn tới sự chuyển đổi trong marketing từ phương thức truyền thống sang phương thức kỹ thuật số. Giáo dục đại học cũng chịu ảnh hưởng này và bài viết này thảo luận về marketing theo hướng kỹ thuật số ở các trường đại họcViệt Nam. Hiện nay, các trường đại học cần phải triển khai các chiến lược marketing số hiệu quả để thu hút và giữ được các sinh viên tiềm năng phù hợp. Tuy nhiên, ở Việt Nam, các chiến lược này dường như chưa được thực hiện thành công, bởi chúng có vẻ như thiếu kế hoạch chiến lược và sự nhất quán, điều này có thể được thấy thông qua nghiên cứu trường hợp Trường đại học Ngoại thương, Đại học Huế và Đại học Quốc gia Hà Nội. Sử dụng phương pháp quan sát trang web và các trang mạng xã hội của từng trường nhằm đánh giá 5W, 5 yếu tố cơ bản của chiến lược marketing kỹ thuật số, để phân tích xem chiến lược marketing số được áp dụng như thế nào và những hạn chế là gì. Dựa trên những phát hiện này, hai đề xuất được đưa ra để các trường đại học Việt Nam có thể triển khai chiến lược marketing số hiệu quả, đó là đầu tư toàn diện cho marketing số và xây dựng chiến lược nội dung marketing chi tiết theo 5W. Sử dụng chiến lược marketing số đúng đắn sẽ tận dụng được công nghệ cao, giảm chi phí và tăng sự tự lan toả của các chiến dịch marketing số. Từ khoá: Giáo dục đại học; Marketing; Marketing số; Hành trình của khách hàng số; Chiếnlược Marketing. 1 Trường Đại học Giáo dục, Đại học Quốc gia Hà Nội. 2 La Trobe University, Australia; Email: dhyen1973@gmail.com.

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